Woodworm: how to recognise it and how to eliminate it?

They are recognisable because of the characteristic holes found on wooden surfaces, a material of which the they are greedy. Nothing escapes their voracity: antique and modern furniture, parquet, woodwork, skirting boards. Worse still, even structural elements such as beams and trusses, potentially endangering the stability and integrity of a building. The big question is therefore: what to do when you discover that there is a wood? How do we eliminate it?

What is woodworm?

The larva of a woodworm

The woodworm is a xylophagous insect, a term derived from the Greek xýlon (wood) and phagèin (eating).
Its larvae dig tunnels with diameters ranging from 1 mm to 1 cm. They do this to feed on the cellulose they need to grow;
When does it come out of the wood? Once it reaches adulthood, in spring and autumn, the woodworm fly, i.e., it emerges from the cocoon to go in search of a partner to mate with. After mating, it deposits eggs (the number depends on the species, some as many as 200 eggs) in the wooden crevices, thus giving rise to a new infestation;

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What is the difference between the woodworm and the termite?

What is the difference between woodworm and termite

Xylophagous insects, i.e. those that feed on wood, are part of two main orders:

  • isoptera, they are what we commonly refer to as tèrmiti (since many wonder, the accent goes on the first syllable). A specimen can be seen in the photo top right. We will deal with these in a future article;
  • beetles, are the woodworms. They are divided into several families, within which there are, in turn, several species:
    • Anobiidae: Anobium punctatum is the woodworm that has a reddish to dark brown colour as an adult. It is small in size and usually only attacks wood superficially, without affecting the stability of the object or structure. These are commonly referred to as woodworms;
      They prefer seasoned wood without bark (including plywood). They attack ancient artefacts, beams, works of art or materials made of cellulose;
      When these Anobid woodworms attack wood, the infestation steadily increases, spreading to other objects in the same room;
      The same family includes the Xestobium rufovillosum (top left). It is larger than Anobium punctatum and its infestation, spread over a large area, can undermine the stability of affected structures. This woodworm is commonly known by the dreadful nickname clock of death, because it bangs its head against the walls of the tunnels, producing a ticking sound reminiscent of a clock: it is actually a sexual lure for females;
    • lyctids: these are Lyctus linearis and Lyctus brunneus. They are elongated and very small in size. They are able to literally reduce any wooden element to dust. They mainly affect the parquet, new woods and also skirting boards;
    • cerambycids: these are Hylotrupes bajulus and Trichoferus holosericeus. They are larger than specimens of the other two families and have antennae pointing backwards – that is why they are nicknamed capricorns;
      Considered to be among the most dangerous, they create a lot of damage. They are capable of collapsing load-bearing structures such as beams. They can dig tunnels up to a centimetre wide. They can go deep and it is not easy to notice the infestation because exit holes can be found even years after the infestation began;

How can you tell if there is a woodworm infestation?

Rosume is one of the signs indicating the presence of a woodworm infestation;

First of all, it should be known that moisture favours the development of woodworm. This is why among the favourite environments of this insect are cellars, taverns and sparsely inhabited houses. But this does not exclude the possibility of finding them in ordinary homes;

If you see holes or holes in a piece of furniture or in a beam; rosume (very fine dust-like sawdust that is basically made up of wood fibres and woodworm droppings) near a piece of furniture or a beam, then you are likely to have woodworms in your home;

These signs indicate that the infestation has already taken place and it is therefore a good idea to take timely action;

Can the woodworm be dangerous to humans?

Woodworm mite dermatitis

Not directly. The woodworm itself is absolutely harmless to humans. However, woodworms in turn fall prey to the worm mite. It is called Pyemotes ventricosus and feeds mainly on larvae. A woodworm infestation is therefore usually accompanied by a mite infestation. This is a further clue if there is no other visible evidence, such as galleries and rosume;
The bite of Pyemotes ventricosus manifests itself as small blisters that are very itchy;

How to eliminate woodworm?

How to eliminate woodworm?

If you realise you have woodworm in your home, it is good to know the ways in which you can get rid of these unwelcome guests;
The best solution is to contact a disinfector, which will apply a healing treatment, eliminating eggs, larvae, pupae and adults.
There are three most common types of treatment:

  • microwave: microwaves only heat what contains water, which is exactly the principle behind the oven that many people have in their homes.
    The wood will therefore not be damaged, but the microwaves will ‘cook’ the moths at whatever stage of life they are in;
    This treatment is ecological, does not require pesticides, and can be performed on any element. It tends to target the treatment only on damaged areas, and is not recommended for large areas. The equipment is limited in size and covering a large area would be time-consuming and costly;
    Attention must also be paid to the possible presence of metal objects such as screws, bolts or plates, which could cause burns to the wood when heated;
  • hot air: this method is based on the conduction of heat inside the wood with generators that produce hot air at temperatures between 80 and 100 °C.
    Large pipes are used to keep the heat flowing by means of an air recycling process, so that the temperature of the wood reaches ideal levels to eliminate pests;
    This technique makes it possible to reach the deepest parts of the wood without damaging it, as heating and cooling take place gradually;
  • gas: is a technique that has changed a lot over the years. Originally, toxic and environmentally harmful products were used. Since 2005, its use has been banned;
    Today, when we talk about gas, we mean a modified and controlled low-oxygen atmosphere.
    The woodworm-affected artefact is closed in a plastic container. The oxygen present is removed and carbon dioxide is added. In this way, the woodworms die of asphyxia. The duration of the treatment varies depending on the temperature and can last up to several days. This technique is ideal for objects and furniture that can be packed away. It is, however, unsuitable for large surfaces or load-bearing structures;

Such treatments are used to eliminate the problem in an environmentally friendly manner. However, it must be kept in mind that they may prove ineffective and the wood may be attacked again if a preventive treatment that can only be achieved with the use of worm-proofing products.

Anti-wormwood treatment: why is it important?

Anti-wormwood treatment: why is it important?

If a professional has been called in to eliminate woodworm, it is a good idea to consider an anti-wormwoodworm treatment to preserve attacked surfaces or simply to prevent future attacks;
As one of the few proverbs that never gets it wrong says: prevention is better than cure.

These types of treatment are not eternal so must be repeated after several years to ensure the effectiveness of the product. They can be performed in any time of year, but you have better results in spring.

Rio Verde's RA3000 woodworm/termite preservative

The antiworm/anthelmite preservative RA3000 from the Rio Verde can be applied to furniture, garden furniture, door and window frames, doors, cladding, rafters, pergolas, balconies, cottages, fences, gazebos and everything made of wood.
It serves to prevent woodworm and termite attacks by penetrating deep thanks to its micro stabilised emulsion.

It is important, before applying the treatment, clean the area well, so that there is better absorption of the product and thus greater effectiveness. Ideally, empty the flicker holes of rosume and other impurities.
It is best to apply Rio Verde woodworm/anthelminth preservative not only to the affected area, but to the entire surface of the object;
We recommend the application of 2-3 coats of product, which leaves no residue and is easy to apply.

Consideration should also be given to protecting all wooden artefacts and structures in the home, since the adult woodworm can fly and females also lay their eggs on other wooden surfaces;
The RA3000 anti-wormwood/antitermite preservative also has a healing power. In case live animals are present, simply increase the amount of product used (it is important to read the toggle-type) to have not only protection, but also a cure against these unwanted guests.
In addition, it is a product that complies with the European biocide regulation.

For more information on woodworm mothproofing, we recommend reading this post updated.

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